How Sugar Affects Your Teeth

From the time your first teeth grow in, there are tiny sugar-loving microbes in your mouth. They turn sugar into acid, which breaks down tooth enamel, causing decay and even bad breath. Excess sugar can also contribute to gum disease which may advance to periodontitis, a condition that affects the gums and bones that support your teeth. Gum disease has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and dementia. It’s vital to limit your sugar intake and create a good oral hygiene routine to ensure your oral health isn’t negatively affected by sugar.

This TED-Ed video by Mel Rosenberg explains how excessive sugar consumption affects your teeth and how you can prevent a cavity calamity with good oral hygiene.

How Sugar Leads to Dental Decay

Some of the bacteria in your mouth are helpful and aid in digestion. Other bacteria eat the sugar left on your teeth, which results in plaque. Over time, plaque causes erosion of tooth enamel. If left untreated, dental decay leads to tooth sensitivity, cavities, and possibly tooth loss.

Tips to Decrease the Effects of Sugar on Your Teeth

While it may be impossible to cut all sugar from your diet, taming your sweet tooth and following a few good tips will help decrease the damage to your teeth.

  • Limit your sugar consumption, including Fizzy Drinks, such as soft drinks and energy drinks.
  • Drink plenty of water to rinse your mouth while eating.
  • Brush teeth after eating sugary foods.
  • Don’t eat sugary, sticky foods such as candy. Try fresh fruits instead.
  • Try sugar-free gum which can decrease inflammation and help reduce the risk of tooth decay.
  • Cut down on carbohydrates since they turn into sugar in your mouth.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste which helps build up your enamel.
  • Floss regularly to remove plaque and reduce the harmful bacteria between teeth.

Regular Dental Checkups Catch Tooth Decay Early

To help keep your teeth and gums healthy, visit the dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning. When your dentist catches a cavity in its early stages, it can be treated before it causes any permanent damage to your dentin. Ultimate Smile Design, in Palm Bay, Florida, has been serving patients for over 30 years with friendly and professional dental care. We practice mercury-free dentistry, using a composite resin to fill cavities. Schedule a dental visit today for yourself and your family to help limit the negative effects of sugar on your teeth.


Related article: Know the Signs of Healthy Gums and Gum Disease

Article originally posted January 30, 2018 and was updated with fresh content on November 9, 2022.